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HR Looks to the Future

By Amogh Deshmukh

Amogh Deshmukh

A favorite movie—Aa Dekhen Zara—comes to mind when I consider the changing role of HR. Translated as “Come on, Let’s See,” the film tells the story of a photographer who inherits his grandfather’s camera—a magical invention that not only takes pictures, but also predicts the future. Imagine if you had the camera’s power to see what lies ahead and could take proactive, corrective steps today to manage the challenges of tomorrow.

Be careful what you wish for!

In our Global Leadership Forecast 2014|2015, we asked HR professionals like you if they felt that their roles had evolved over the past few decades to include future planning.

AnticipatorFor more than four decades (up until the 1990s), human resources played more of a personnel manager or “reactor” role, but in the last 20 years, HR has expanded its influence and become a business “partner.” This move from “order-taker” to partner means that HR is more connected with the needs of the organization and can help address talent-related issues more efficiently. The role of partner is very different from that of reactor, who only managed policies, compliance, and payroll.

The good news: We found that only 24 percent of HR professionals in India label themselves as reactors. Interestingly, this number is not far off from how HR professionals responded globally. In India, small and medium enterprises are a dominant segment, and many Indian business houses have started to adopt sophisticated HR practices. There is a long journey ahead and still room to improve, but overall the role of reactor is on its way out. Around 59 percent of Indian HR professionals saw themselves as partners. This role is here to stay for some time, and many organizations are still investing in developing compatible skills for their HR teams. These include the ability to influence others and ask business-specific questions to help clarify the impact of deliverables.

So, what about the remaining 17 percent?

They have taken on a new role: “anticipator.” These professionals like to anticipate the future (I wonder if they’ve seen the movie). They have taken a step ahead and are setting the table rather than having a discussion about sitting at the table.

The anticipator does two things differently from their fellow reactor or partner colleagues. First, the probability of them being involved in the strategic planning process is very high. They know that talent planning is an integral part of business strategy, and it cannot be disconnected from the business strategy. Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows a strong link between business strategy and leadership capability building. They are inseparable from each other. Second, anticipators are likely to use predictive talent analytics more often to help them make people decisions. I hear anticipators say Aa Dekhen Zara: How can we work on your talent today to help realize the business strategy in the short to medium term?

Amogh Deshmukh is head of sales and marketing at DDI India.

Read the full Gloabl Leadership Forecast.

Posted: 21 Jan, 2015,
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